Anti-bullying scheme gets £450,000 funding boost

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson and MVP founder Jackson Katz with pupils Jasper Williams (Drummond High), Sean Mooney (Portobello High), Brooke Steele and James Gibson (both Tynecastle High). Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson and MVP founder Jackson Katz with pupils Jasper Williams (Drummond High), Sean Mooney (Portobello High), Brooke Steele and James Gibson (both Tynecastle High). Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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A PROJECT aimed at helping school pupils challenge gender violence and bullying is to benefit from £450,000 of funding.

The Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Scotland programme encourages young people to speak out against violent behaviour.

The project, the brainchild of American educator Jackson Katz, has been running in Scotland since its launch at Portobello High School in 2011.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson announced the extra cash on a visit to Tynecastle High School, where he met Mr Katz and young people taking part in the scheme.

He said: “This additional £450,000 funding will be used to employ more full-time dedicated training staff to build on the progress already made and extend the scheme to even more schools and communities throughout Scotland.

“Prevention through education is fundamental to tackling the root causes of violence and crime and the MVP programme teaches young people ways of challenging situations that they feel uncomfortable with in a safe way.

“It’s not about encouraging people to break up fights or become involved in violent situations but about teaching young people that we all have a responsibility to challenge the culture that can lead to violence in the first place.”

Mr Katz added: “I’ve always maintained that young people are eager to address the problems of harassment, abuse and bullying pro-actively, if those of us in educational leadership provide them with the tools and opportunity to do so.

“With this support from the Justice Secretary and an impressive group of committed students and educators, Scotland stands poised not only to reduce violence, but potentially to set a really positive example for the rest of us.”

Jacquie Ramsay, depute head teacher at Tynecastle High School, said: “MVP equips our students with the skills and confidence to know that as empowered bystanders they can do something to prevent all forms of bullying and gender-based violence.

“I am in no doubt that this will allow our students to develop a more resilient attitude to life, which will reap long-term benefits for them as they grow and move on from school into adult life and a positive destination.”

When the scheme launched at Portobello High, 15 teachers and 15 youth and community workers were coached by two trainers from the United States who work for MVP.

They went on to train specially recruited “peer mentors”, youngsters in their fourth, fifth and sixth years at the school.

Portobello was selected for its enthusiasm for the project rather than any particular problems.

It launched the project in November 2011, along with St Stephen’s and Port Glasgow High joint campus in Inverclyde.

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